There have been several interesting polls out today. First up Lord Ashcroft has released some polling of members of the Unite trade union. Many of the answers are what we’d expect, although not entirely comfortable for the Unite leadership – as you’d probably expect, Unite members don’t universally support the Labour party (amongst those who would vote, voting intention was Conservative 23%, Labour 49%, Lib Dem 7%, UKIP 12%). Shown a picture of Len McCluskey only 24% said they could recognise him (and only 16% actually got it right!). Again, rather awkward, but not wholly surprising – turnout in McCluskey’s election was only 15% and I suspect many members join up for protection of their rights in their local workplace, and have little concern for national trade union politics.
The core of the poll though is naturally about political funds, party affiliation and opting in. Asked if they contributed to the political fund, 37% of the Unite members polled said they did, 30% said they had opted-out, 33% didn’t know. This is interesting. The reality is that only about 5% of Unite’s membership have opted out of the political fund… so it could be that the sample is strangely skewed (though I can’t think of any obvious reason why it would be skewed towards opt-outers!), or that Unite’s rank and file members really do have little idea whether they are contributing to the political fund or not. Asked if they think the political fund should be opt-in or opt-out, 57% of members said they thought it should be opt-out, and asked what they would do if it was opt-in, only 30% said they would opt-in (comparing that to the 95% who currently contribute to the political fund I can’t imagine Unite going down that route!)
Ed Miliband’s proposals don’t affect Trade Union’s own political funds of course, rather he has suggested that Trade Union members should only be affiliated to the Labour party if they opt-in. Asked what people would do under these circumstances, 12% of Unite members said they’d opt-in to affiliating to the Labour party. Whether this is good or bad news for Labour is a matter of perception – yes, it’s only a small minority of Unite members, but it would be well over a hundred thousand new party members for Ed Miliband so I doubt it would upset him too much (in terms of finances for the Labour party, who knows, whose to say the affiliation fee wouldn’t be higher under the new regime to make up for lower numbers and, as others have pointed out, if the political funds themselves were still opt-out the money would still be there for Unions to donate if they wanted to).
Secondly, there is a new YouGov poll of Wales, carried out for Roger Scully’s new website Election in Wales. Voting intentions there are below (note the very sharp differences between how people say they’d cast their constituency and regional votes – the difference in Labour support in particular looks startling).
Westminster: CON 23%, LAB 48%, LDEM 8%, PLAID 9%, UKIP 8%
Welsh Assembly (constituency): CON 19%, LAB 46%, LDEM 8%, PLAID 17%, UKIP 6%
Welsh Assembly (regional): CON 12%, LAB 25%, LDEM 9%, PLAID 23%, UKIP 16%
Finally TNS BMRB have a voting intention poll out with topline figures of CON 28%(+1), LAB 38%(+2), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 16%(-3). There is clearly no obvious narrowing of the Labour lead here, though the drop in UKIP support is interesting. We’ve seen a decline in UKIP support amongst the telephone companies and YouGov who tend to show lower UKIP support anyway, but this is the first time the companies that tend to show higher UKIP support have shown them coming off the boil a tad.